I remember last spring when the snow was melting and seeding season was upon us, I nearly couldn't stand the enthusiasm of the guys around here. The previous year had been a bumper crop, perfectly timed rains with no frost and good sun. That made last year exciting and hopeful and they were like a bunch of kids at Christmas time when it was time to seed.
Then came the year that wasn't. June had the least rain ever recorded and the rest of summer wasn't much better. Frost came right after seeding and by July a good number were just tilling the fields of dust under. For some, insurance helped so they could try again this year, but not everyone had insurance. The cattle had nothing to eat so herds were sold off, at a loss. the biggest frustration last summer was the lack of rain. One farmer kept an eye on the rainfall in the Sahara and declared that we had had less than that place this past year. Lakes dried up, dugouts became dry, and in winter the ground didn't freeze because there was no moisture in it.
When this spring came around there was no spring in their steps or excitement to get out in the fields. I saw nervousness in their eyes and they walked like their backs were heavy carrying large invisible packs. Such a difference. One farmer told me that even with a great crop, the value of the crops they were growing had diminished so much that the price it fetched wouldn't even pay for what it cost to plant and grow. So they were already behind it all.
In spite of the difficulties of last year, some of them told me miracle stories of crops that sprang up without water, and fields that shouldn't produce much, giving more than expected. Some found untaped resources for feed for their cattle that brought them through the winter. Others spoke of surprise opportunities for income that have helped them make it through the season with a little bit of cash.
Those stories have helped me refocus my prayers for this area. I have been, and still am praying for rain here. Three days of rain would start to set things right again, bring back a slough or two and help with crops and livestock. I need to keep asking God about that one. But the shift in my praying has brought me to the place where I am praying that God would meet the needs of the local farmers around here. That he might help us to rely on him and see him provide for our needs, be it through the crops or cattle, or through his own means. It may seem subtle but the one prayer asks for the conditions to change while the other prayer asks for us to be changed. Honestly I think that's the greater prayer, to change man's hearts rather than changing the weather. It's humbling to be provided for by a gracious God through means other than the ones we like and want. But maybe that way just reminds us better that we serve him and he doesn't serve us.
That's not a bad lesson to learn again, especially when we get to thinking we can do it all.
It's been gently raining here on and off all day, and for the first time in a very long time, I see puddles.